CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- The lily of the valley is a flower growing in temperate zones in the northern hemisphere from April to June.

Also known as the May lily, this flower is a lucky charm. The first meaning of the lily of the valley is the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The May lily symbolizes warmth and joy. In fact, on May 1, people give a few sprigs of the flower to loved ones as a way to wish them happiness all year long.

The lily of the valley's tradition is very old. It began in the Renaissance period with a very courteous king. The King of France, Charles IX, visited his country's Drome region with his mother and received sprigs of the lily as a lucky charm. He appreciated the smell so much that, one year later, he decided to give the ladies of the Court sprigs of lily as a lucky charm too.

Later, the lily of the valley became a different but powerful symbol. From the beginning of the 20th century, Belgians observe Labor Day, known as Fête du Travail, on May 1. On this day, people used to strike for the eight-hour day. Nowadays, this day pays tribute to workers and is also a public holiday in the country.

In Belgium, the lily of the valley can be found almost everywhere around May 1. People can get lilies at flower shops, road stands, gas stations and supermarkets. They also can pick lilies from their garden.

However, the lily of the valley is a very poisonous flower. Please keep pets and small children away from it to avoid accidental consumption.